hidden_fields

Travel Information

  • Peru has three main geographical zones with their own type of climate
  • The whole of Peru knows 2 seasons; the dry and the wet season.
  • The wet season is from November through March
  • The dry season is from April through October
  • Duration of the two seasons does depend on their geographical zone
  • The Peruvian Coast, hardly sees any rain
  • The Jungle can have rain all year round
  • The highlands driest period is from May through September
Peru is located on the Central West Coast of South America. Bordered on the North by Ecuador and Colombia, on the East by Brazil and on the South by Chile and Bolivia. Peru is South America’s 3rd biggest country after Brazil and Argentina. Apart from being such a large country, Peru is also one of the most diverse countries in the world. Not only when it comes to geographical characteristics but also when it comes to climates, and of course fauna and flora.
 
When looking at the map of Peru one can clearly distinguish three geographical sectors within its boundaries; the Pacific Coast on the West, the Andean Highlands in the center and the Amazon Rainforest in the East. These regions are the most influential when it comes to the climate and weather of different parts of Peru. In general one can say that Peru has, like most South American countries, two seasons; the wet (or rainy) and the dry season. On average these are the same for the entire country even though due to the geographical effects the “transition” months for each geographical region can be different. In general one can say that the dry season is from April through November and the rainy season from November through March.
 
The Peruvian Pacific Coast is a very dry and warm region with little rain all year round. As most of the coast is geographically recognized as being desert, rainfall is very minimal here. From November through May rain is hardly seen on the entire Peruvian Coast. From June through October with exceptions they may be some rainfall, especially north of Lima. In Lima itself you may experience some drizzle but not more than that. Lima nevertheless in this time of year may be quite chilly. The Humboldt Current brings cold waters from Antarctica and the humidity (especially on the seaside neighborhoods) increases making the real temperature much colder than it actually is. From December through March is the official summertime on the coast and temperatures will rise, the hours of sun increase and the whole of Lima goes to the beaches north or south of Lima. For the rest of the Peruvian Coast this is also the warmest period. Trujillo, Chiclayo, Piura and Mancora all will be quite busy with national and international tourism.
 
The Andean Highlands make up the entire center of the country and run as a corridor through Peru dividing the coast with the rainforest. With dozens of mountains well over 6000 meters all through the Andes, obviously this is not a small mountain chain but an actual Mecca for highland enthusiasts. The Andes, like the rest of Peru, also have two main seasons, divided more or less the same as in the rest of Peru. Mid November the rainy season starts with most rain falling in January and February. By mid-March the dry season will start and from May through August hardly any rain will fall in the highlands. From August rain becomes a bit more common but this will not be more than a short shower. Temperatures in the highlands depend a lot on the sun. During the dry season temperatures during the day can be quite warm as the sun is quite strong on these altitudes. Nevertheless as soon as the sun goes down, temperatures fall quite dramatically and nights can get close to freezing temperatures. In the rainy season the nights are on average somewhat warmer than the dry season.
 
The Amazon Rainforest Basin makes up for about 60% of the country but only houses about 8% of the population. The region is made up out of the final part of the slopes of the Andean Highlands and the flat low jungle basin of the Amazon Rainforest. As most jungles this part of the country is also known for its hot and humid climate. This part of Peru has more or less the same “wet” and “dry” months as the rest of Peru with its main difference that rain can fall at any moment during the year in the jungle. Nevertheless in the wet season rain will be much more common than in the dry season. In January and February it can rain for days in the jungle making it less interesting to visit at this time of year. Temperatures in the jungle will almost always be high with some exceptions in June and July when the Peruvian Amazon can suffer from cold fronts for a couple of days lowering the temperatures quite a bit. 

 
  • That Lima is the second biggest desert city in the world after Cairo, Egypt.
  • That the Peruvian North Coast is home to some of the most ancient civilizations in South America such as the Moche Culture, the Caral Culture and the Sipan Culture
  • That Machu Picchu probably has been discovered twice before Hiram Bingham discovered the site and that from one occasion there are still carvings in the rocks to be found
  • That the battle in 1536 in Ollantaytambo is the only known battle where the Inca defeated the Spanish. They did this with help from nearby jungle tribes and the strategic location of Ollantaytambo.
  • That in 2008 the source of the Amazon River was retraced to the Arequipa region, making it not only the longest river in the world but also means that the longest part of the Amazon River runs through Peru.
  • That the Andes Mountain range is the longest in the world. The largest part of this mountain range can be found on Peruvian territory.
  • Lake Titicaca besides being the highest navigable lake in the world, is also the biggest lake in South America.
  • That some of the highest sand dunes in the world and the highest in South America can be found in Nazca
  • That the Colca Canyon is the second deepest canyon in the world, twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. The world’s deepest Canyon, the Cotohuasi Canyon (200 meters deeper) is located just a couple of 100 kilometers from the Colca Canyon
  • That about 60% of Peruvian Territory is occupied by the Amazon Rainforest
  • Cusco is Quechua (Local native Language) for Navel of the World
     

Following is a list of some of our favorite restaurants in Peru’s main culinary destinations; Lima, Cusco and Arequipa. For recommendations in other destinations, please do not hesitate to contact us. If you are travelling with us and would like us to make reservations for a certain restaurant, do not hesitate to contact your Travel Representative. 

LIMA

LA GLORIA
Atahualpa 201, Miraflores.
Mediterranean food with strong Peruvian influences. Several years elected as one of the best restaurants in Peru. Locally recommend are the “sesos de ternera” and “el rabo de toro”

ASTRID & GASTÓN
Cantuarias 175, Miraflores.
Fusion restaurant under impulse of Gaston Acurio, Peru’s most famous chef with several restaurants in Peru as abroad. Is considered one of the top 20 most influential chefs in the world and this is one of his most famous restaurants in Peru.

RAFAEL
San Martín 300, Miraflores.
This restaurant provides a great combination of Peruvian food cooked with different influences. The restaurant is known for its large variety of Peruvian ingredients they know to incorporate in their dishes in new and innovative manners.

HUACA PUCLLANA
General Borgono 8, San Isidro.
The Miraflores restaurant is located in what is probably one of the best settings for a restaurant in Lima. The Huaca Pucllana is a pre-Inca temple located on the border between Miraflores and San Isidro. The restaurant provides outside as well as inside dinning possibilities and offers a great variety of Peruvian and international dishes. Especially during the nighttime when the site is illuminated this makes for some great romantic dinning at this amazing location.

CEVICHERIA LA MAR
Av. La Mar 770, Miraflores.
This cevicheria from Gaston Acurio is one of the best places in Peru to get your introduction to a good ceviche, the national dish from Peru. The restaurant provides great seafood in a nice ambient and close to most hotels in Miraflores. The restaurant provides set menus as well as A la carte dining options. A very popular place among Limeños this is a great option to get to know the Lima eating culture and the fact that food is taken seriously by people from Lima.

L’EAU VIVE
370 Jiron Ucayali 3188, Cercado de Lima
This restaurant is located in Lima center and a good place to have lunch while discovering the beautiful colonial city center of Lima. The restaurants is located a couple of blocks from the main square and belongs to a French monastery. It are the nuns themselves that run the restaurant and every day the Ave Maria is sang at certain times during the day. The dishes are simple but very well prepared French and Peruvian dishes. Most days the nuns provide a fixed and economical menu for about US$5 per person.

LA ROSA NAUTICA
Espigon 4 Circuito de Playas, Miraflores
Probably one of the better known Lima seafood restaurants. Located on its own private pier in the sea, this restaurant is reached by going down to the Costa Verde or the Miraflores beaches. The restaurant provides a great location for a romantic dinner based on the amazing seafood culture Lima has. The restaurant is somewhat more expensive but the location is definitely worth the extra.

AREQUIPA

LA NUEVA PALOMINO
Pasaje Leoncio Prado, 122 - Yanahuara
This typical Arequipa restaurant offers a great selection of Arequipa dishes such as fried pork and shrimp soups. Plates are well served and often there is live music to accompany your dinner.

MAMACOCHA
Calle Las Orquídeas, 101 - Cayma
This typical Peruvian restaurant is specialized in seafood and provides some original dishes combining Peruvian with international cuisine.

ZIG-ZAG
Calle Zela 210 - 212
This restaurant is specialized in the Andean Cuisine, especially meats. Alpaca, ostrich and beef are all part of their large choice of meats. Most meats come served on your own stone grill grilling the meat in front of you while dining. Definitely recommendable for meat lovers.

CUSCO

CICCIOLINA
Calle Triunfo 393, 2do piso
This restaurant has been elected several times as the best restaurant in Cusco. A mixture of Peruvian and Mediterranean cuisine this restaurants has something for all tastes. From nice salads over homemade pasta to great seafood and meat dishes, here you can find it all. The restaurant has its own in-house bakery and provides for some great breakfasts too. Decoration is warm and the service very friendly.

LA DIVINA COMEDIA
Calle Pumacurco, 406
This great restaurant is part of the Arqueologo Hotel and is nicely decorated with an eye for detail. The food is a mixture of Peruvian and international cuisine and the restaurant often offers special nights with theater and live piano music.

 
LIMO

Portal de Carnes 236, Piso 2, Plaza de Armas
This restaurant, located on the Cusco’s famous main square is a great example of “Fusion Kitchen” taking the best of the Peruvian cuisine and mixing it up with oriental and other influences. The restaurant has a great and diverse menu and with some tables having a view over the main square and Cusco you cannot go wrong with this restaurant.   
 
 

LA BODEGA
Herrajes 138
This relatively new pizzeria is located at 2 blocks from the main square and one of the better options for a good pizza. They also have a nice selection of pasta’s and of course the necessary wines to accompany a good Italian dinner. 
 
 
 

CHICHA by GASTON ACURIO
261 Plaza Regocijo, 2nd. level
Chicha is one of the flag ships of Peru’s most famous chef, Gaston Acurio. Chicha is based on renewing the Andean Cuisine and showcasing the amazing wealth of ingredients and cooking techniques that Peru has to offer. Here you can find several of the typical Peruvian dishes but all with Gaston’s twist making for a great culinary experience. Chicha can be found both in Arequipa as well as in Cusco. 
 
 

INKA GRILL
Portal de Panes 115, Plaza de Armas
This long-standing restaurant located on the corner of Cusco’s main square is mostly known for its meat dishes. Nevertheless they have a very international menu with Peruvian and Andean dishes as well as pastas, sandwiches and vegetarian dishes. 
 
 
 
 

GREENS ORGANIC
Santa Catalina Angosta 135, Piso 2, Plaza de Armas
Located just off Cusco’s main square, this restaurant is well known among vegetarians visiting Cusco. The restaurant only serves dishes prepared with fresh and organic ingredients, several coming from their own farm in the Sacred Valley. The restaurant also offers a nice selection of wines and organic juices. 

 

 

PIZZERIA LA JUSTINA
Calle Palacio 110
This nice small pizzeria is located in the Cusco city center and provides some great pizzas in wood oven for economical prices. The restaurant is located on the inside of a small patio giving it a lot of tranquility. Service is very friendly and the decoration is very sober but warm.

  • The 4 day Classic Inca Trail is the most popular hike in South America
  • There is also a 2 day version available for people who don’t have the time for the 4 day one
  • The best hiking regions in Peru besides Cusco are; Arequipa, Colca Canyon and Huaraz (Cordillera Blanca)
  • There are several alternative hikes to Machu Picchu such as the Lares and the Salkantay Trek
  • Besides hiking to Machu Picchu you can also hike other Inca sites such as Choquequirao and Espiritu Pampa

Peru is a great hiking destination. Having the Andes Mountains running from North to South through the country, Peru is blessed with an amazing scenery and large diversity when it comes to hiking. The most famous hikes in Peru are of course the hikes leading to Machu Picchu. The main ones and most famous are called the Classic Inca Trails. There are two options; the complete 4 day Inca Trail and the shorter 2 day Inca Trail. Both of these end up at the Sun Gate in Machu Picchu, giving you the same view as the Inca received when arriving from Cusco to this majestic site. Being such popular hikes they do sell out months in advance. Therefore there are some alternative trails that allow you to enjoy the amazing scenery of South Peru and take you to Machu Picchu. The two alternative trails are the 4 day Lares Hike taking you through Quechua villages and small Inca ruins to Ollantaytambo from where you will embark your train to Machu Picchu, or the even more challenging 5 day Salkantay Hike.

This hike takes you on 5 days from Cusco via the foot of the mighty Salkantay Mountain (6264 meters) over highland pampas to the border with the jungle, the cloud forests. From here you will pass by coca fields and other ancient Inca roads until you reach the village of Aguas Calientes. Another recently new alternative route to Machu Picchu is via de 4 day Inca Jungle Route. This route is a combination of downhill biking, wild water rafting and hiking to Machu Picchu.

Besides all these hikes with final destination Machu Picchu, there are some other hikes taking you to lesser known Inca sites that due to the fact that they are much less visited make for an experience much different than Machu Picchu.

The two most popular sites to be visited on multiday hikes are Choquequirao and Espiritu Pampa. Choquequirao can be reached by a 4 day hike starting from a village at 4 hours’ drive from Cusco. It takes you through the mighty Apurimac River Valley and then starts climbing to the top of valley on the other side. As Machu Picchu the site is also located between two mountain tops and spreads out over these two mountains. The site has not been fully recovered from the jungle and some archeologists even think the site may be bigger than Machu Picchu. The other site is Espiritu Pampa. This site has been recognized as the final refuge of the Inca after the Spanish invasion. The site is located almost in the actual Amazon Basin, and based on the building techniques the most recent Inca site as some Spanish building features were found here. It was this site Hiram Bingham was looking for when looking for Machu Picchu. Ironically enough he stumbled to Espiritu Pampa before discovering Machu Picchu and discarded it as being the Lost City of the Incas. Espiritu Pampa can be reached with a minimum 6 day hike from Cusco. The hike is due to the large altitude differences and climate changes also one of the harder ones to do in the region.

Other great hiking in South Peru can be done in the Arequipa region. Close to Arequipa you can find the Misti Volcano. This volcano well over 5000 meters is an impressive mountain but the climb up there is relatively easy and can be done in 2 days. For multiday hikes in the region another mecca is the Colca Canyon. This Canyon, the second deepest in the world is surrounded by snowcapped mountains such as the Ampato and provides great 2-5 day hikes.

Finally the true mecca for high mountain hikes would be the north of Peru. In the region around Huaraz (8 hours in bus from Lima) you can find the Cordillera Blanca and the Cordillera Negra. The Cordillera Blanca is the highest cordillera in the Peruvian Andes and holds the Huascaran Mountain. This mountain of 6768 meters high is Peru's highest peak and impressive to see. The entire Cordilllera Blanca is full of snowcapped mountains and blue lakes. Another mountain worth mentioning is the Alpamayo Mountain north of Huaraz which was declared several times to be the world’s most beautiful mountain. In the Cordillera Blanca it is possible to do weeklong hikes without bumping in to anyone.

For more information on Hiking in Peru, see; www.howtotraveltomachupicchu.com

  • Peru was home to some of the oldest civilizations known
  • The Inca Empire started in Southern Peru but son was to encompass the whole area from Quito to Santiago
  • The Spaniards set first foot on Peruvian land in 1529 to return in 1532 to conquer Peru and the Inca
  • In 1828 Peru obtained independence under leadership of San Martin
  • Peru’s modern history has been marked by economic turmoil and its political consequences
  • In the 80’s Peru suffered from leftwing guerrilla groups such as the Sendero Luminoso
  • Alberto Fujimori was able to put an end to this but with a very high price for Human Rights
  • In 2011 Ollanta Humala was elected president over Fujimori’s daughter Keiko

As can be seen by the sheer quantity of archeological sites in Peru it is obvious that this is a country with a rich history. It is proven that Peru was home to one of the oldest societies known to the world. The Norte Chico civilization that lived on the north coast of nowadays Peru, takes us back to over 2000 B.C. Famous sites on the north coast such as Caral, the oldest city in the Americas, and Chan Chan, the biggest adobe city in the world, provide us with an idea of the ingenuity these societies were constructed with. Nevertheless, as history teaches us these societies or their descendants did surrender to another Peruvian ancient society; the Inca.

By far the most famous civilization in Peru and maybe the Americas the Inca at one point managed to conquer the biggest territory in the history of the Americas. Reaching from nowadays Colombia all the way south to Santiago de Chile more or less, this was a great empire ruled with great efficiency. The first Inca, Manco Capac, according popular legend was born on Isla del Sol, an island on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca. Here the Inca created their interest for masonry and construction, with as foundations the building capacities of the Tihuanaku, another population that lived around Lake Titicaca. From Lake Titicaca they moved north until they reached Cusco and declared Cusco to be the capital of the Inca Empire.

Inca Pachaqutec, probably the biggest of all the Inca kings due to his impressive legacy of sites built under his reign (Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo, Sacsayhuaman), was also responsible for changing the Inca Empire from a small regional power to a continent wide power covering several thousands of kilometers. He conquered territory from Cusco to Quito, Ecuador, to Santiago, Chile and as far as Potosi, Bolivia. All the regions and civilizations he conquered were obliged to take over the Inca Sun Religion and comply with obliged labor. Some resisted but most did not last long against the Inca. One civilization known to have resisted for quite some time is the Chachapoyas in North Peru. Their fortress at Kuelap does explain partially why.

After Pachaqutec the rule went to Huayna Capac during whose rule the Spanish led by Francisco Pizarro first set foot on land in Inca territory. When Francisco Pizarro came back to Peru with the permission from the king of Spain to conquer Peru, Huayna Capac sons, Huáscar and Atahualpa struggled in a civil war. The empire got divided among two brothers each having their own capital. The capital of the south was Cusco and the Capital of the north was Quito, Ecuador. The king of the north conquered the south during a battle in the north of Peru and was on his way to Cusco to reunite the empire.

More or less at the same time the Spaniards under the leadership of Francisco Pizarro arrived in North Peru and had their first encounters with the Inca. It was here in north Peru that the Spaniards had their first battle with the Inca, killing an overwhelming number of Inca due to the superior armor and technology they possessed. They captured the Northern King and asked a ransom from the south only to kill the northern king and capture the southern king and hence control the Inca. The Inca Empire knew several other kings when the Spanish ruled Peru but these lived and ruled more and more in guerilla style and retreated more and more into the jungle until all Inca resistance was broken by the conquistadores. The Spanish were struck by the quantity of gold they found in this “new” world and soon established Lima as the capital of the Viceroyalty of Peru, comprising almost half of the South American continent.

Under influence of Simon Bolivar and in particular San Martin, Peru gained its independence from the Spanish Crown in 1828. From here Peru’s history has been characterized by military coups, dictatorships and wars with neighboring countries. Together with these there were many crashes of the local economy and this led to a fast overturn of governments.

The modern history of Peru is made up for a large part out of the same general economic malaise and corruption as in the former years, only now to express itself in the creation of guerilla groups such as Sendero Luminoso and MRTA (Movimiento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru). Especially the Sendero Luminoso had quite some impact on Peruvian society in the eighties and nineties. It was when the country was under pressure of these groups that Alberto Fujimori became president of Peru in 1990.

Peru at this moment was suffering from impossible inflations making Fujimori change monetary unit in Peru from the Inti to the Nuevo Sol. With these successes in economic turnover of the country, Fujimori got his liberty to work on the guerilla groups in the country. This was done with the help of paramilitary groups and several violations of Human Rights. Nevertheless apart from the large price the country had to pay he managed to get rid of the guerilla groups with the capture of Abimael Guzman and the knock down of the MRTA during the kidnapping of the Japanese Embassy in the mid-nineties.

In 2000 Alberto Fujimori (after cancelling the congress) was more or less ruling the country through a dictatorship and the first signs of corruption in his government, especially by him and the head of the Government Intelligence Vladimir Montesinos. Montesinos fled to the Galapagos and Fujimori auto-exiled to Japan. Montesinos was captured a couple of months later and sentences to several years in jail mainly for corruption charges. Fujimori was taken into custody by Chile for open standing corruption charges and extradited to Peru where he was being charged with Human Rights violations and corruption charges. In 2009 he got convicted to 28 years in jail for Human Rights violations in at least two cases when paramilitary forces where used during his government.

Nevertheless Fujimori still has a lot of popularity in the whole country and this became clear when his daughter ran for President and made it to the second round in the 2011 presidential elections. The outgoing president was Alan Garcia, also a two times Peruvian president after his first disastrous presidency in the eighties. In the end it was Ollanta Humala, a left wing ex-military who won the elections over Keiko Fujimori, Alberto’s daughter.
 

  • Before buying your flight, make sure your passport is still valid for 6 months after departure.
  • Compare international flight prices from day to day, weekend flights may be cheaper at times.
  • Make sure if your airport taxes have been included or not.
  • Most tickets issued these days are E- tickets, meaning that you will just have to provide you passport at the check in desk to obtain your boarding pass.
  • Lima airport is about 1 hour drive from Miraflores, where most hotels are located.
  • The main airlines serving Peruvian destinations are; LAN Peru, TACA Peru, Star Peru and Peruvian Airlines – not all airlines cover all destinations.
Being such a large country obviously Peru has many airports and airfields and most tourist areas can be reached easily with domestic flights. For flights coming from abroad to Peru, there are several international airports in Peru such as Lima, Cusco and Arequipa but the chances that you will arrive from abroad into another airport than Lima airport are quite slim.
Lima airport is called Jorge Chavez Airport and is the only public airport in Lima and all domestic and international flights depart and arrive here. Lima is quite a large hub for flights to South America having several daily connections with other large airport such as Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Santiago and Bogota. Lima is also served by several direct flights from Europe and the USA. In the USA direct flights can be found with several airlines departing from Miami, New York, Los Angeles and Atlanta. For Europe there are direct flights available from Amsterdam, London, Paris and Madrid. Madrid is on average the cheapest departure airport in Europe for flights to Lima.
 
For flights in Peru there are several national and international airlines serving almost all destinations in the country. The international airlines are LAN and TACA and offer flights to the main tourist areas in Peru such as Cusco, Arequipa, Juliaca (Puno), Puerto Maldonado, Iquitos, Pucallpa, Trujillo, Chiclayo, Tumbes and Piura (Mancora). The national airlines for the moment are 2, namely; STAR Airlines and Peruvian Airlines. They offer mostly the same destinations and some additional destinations not served by the larger airlines. Some destinations in Peru, mainly Cusco do not count with the technology to receive evening or night flights. Therefore it is important to keep in mind that most incoming and outgoing flights out Cusco will on average not arrive/depart after 3PM. Nevertheless flights to Cusco start early in the morning and there are about 15 different flights to Cusco daily.
 
For airports such as Arequipa and Juliaca often flights are planned very early in the morning or in the late afternoon or early evening. In general domestic flights in Peru last for 1.25 hours (Cusco) to 2.5 hours (Iquitos) for the longest flights.
 
  • Peru has borders with; Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia and Chile
  • The Pan-American Highway runs all along the Peruvian Coast in between the Ecuador and Chile borders.
  • The entire border with Colombia and Brazil lies in the Amazon Rainforest.
  • The border crossings with Bolivia by Lake Titicaca are one of the highest in the world
  • When crossing borders, stay calm do not go off with people pressuring you into using their services and keep an eye on your luggage.
 
Being one of the most central and largest countries in South America, Peru has borders with most South American countries. Crossing into Peru from Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile can easily be done overland and except for some typical chaos and border formalities in general go quite smooth. Whenever you are crossing the border on your own, always keep a firm eye on your luggage and belongings, do not engage in conversations with somebody offering you services like taxis or easier border crossings. Just stand in line and go through the formalities. In case you have any doubts, ask a uniformed officer at the border crossing offices.
 
Do not get stressed and get hustled in transport you don’t feel comfortable with or into a hotel or taxi ride that was maybe never necessary. Coming from Ecuador you will probably cross the border at Huaquillas. This border crossing is known as being one of the least hospitable to travellers. This is a consequence of the Peru – Ecuador war in 1941. During the years there were several new military clashes between Ecuador and Peru over the same region with the last one being as recent as 1995. This makes that the border is a demilitarized zone with only the border city of Huaquillas in between. The Ecuador border check is about 6Km out of Huaquillas and the Peru immigration offices are somewhere in between the actual border and Tumbes almost 25Km from the border. There is plenty of public transport to the border and back. Taxis are also available but do look out with independent taxis.
 
From Bolivia overland into Peru you will cross via Desaguardero or Copacabana. Both border formalities are quite straight forward but especially in Desaguardero have a close eye on your luggage. The border between Chile and Peru is easy and straightforward with good transport possibilities for ongoing travel on both sides of the border. Crossing into Colombia and Brazil may proof to be a bit more challenging. As almost the entire border with these two countries lies in the Amazon Rainforest, there is very little to no road access and most traffic can be found on the rivers or in the air. Even though Colombia has one of the largest borders with Peru, it can only be accessed through Leticia, the only bigger Colombian city on the Amazon River about 2 days upstream from Iquitos. Brazil can be reached overland via the Amazon River to Manaus and through Puerto Maldonado in the south of Peru to Rio Branco in Brazil. 
  • For the moment there are two train companies providing trains to Machu Picchu; PeruRail and IncaRail
  • Both companies offer a standard and superior train
  • PeruRail also offer the Luxurious Hiram Bingham Train to Machu Picchu
  • Cusco’s San Pedro Station is no longer used
  • All trains leave from either Poroy or Ollantaytambo Station
  • Ollantaytambo Station is a good option as it allows you to combine the Sacred Valley tour with the train to Machu Picchu
  • Poroy Station is the station closest to Cusco at about 40 minutes’ drive form the center
 
As the train is the only “public” transport, most people visiting Machu Picchu tend to go by train. Since 2009 there are two companies doing the route as the state imposed monopoly for PeruRail ended. So besides the first “old time” company PeruRail, there is now also a second company called Inca Rail (what’s in a name) running trains to Aguas Calientes. The main difference between the two companies is the fact that PeruRail has trains leaving from both Poroy as Ollantaytambo Station meanwhile IncaRail only has departures from Ollantaytambo Station.
 
As the train service from Cusco’s San Pedro Station got suspended in 2010, Poroy Station is now the station located closest to Cusco at about 30 minutes’ drive from the city center. Ollantaytambo Station (also called Ollanta) is the second station and a popular station due to the fact that it is the last village in the Sacred Valley and hence a good way to combine a visit to the Sacred Valley with the visit to Machu Picchu. The ride to Aguas Calientes is a very beautiful one and it is definitely recommended to have done the ride at least one way during day time.
 
Here is an overview of the two companies and their services;

PeruRail

Expedition Train; This is the most economical option for the trains to Machu Picchu and was designed to replace the “Backpacker” train. The Expedition train is a modern train with 4 seats socially located in front of each other. The carriages have large panoramic windows to fully appreciate the countryside as it rolls on by. All wagons have air-conditioning, and heating. Snacks and hot and cold drinks are available during the entire trip. Luggage can be stored in the racks placed above the seats. This train has departures from Poroy as well as from Ollantaytambo station.

Vistadome Train; The very comfortable middle class train from PeruRail. The wagons have large panoramic windows and even windows in the roof of the train providing its passengers with great panoramic views. All wagons have plush leather seating with plenty of leg room, air-conditioning and heating. Snacks and hot and cold drinks are available during the entire trip. This service departs daily from both Poroy and Ollantaytambo station.

Hiram Bingham Luxury Train; The very luxurious (and pricey) train to Machu Picchu and one of the most famous train rides in South America. The train is an Original Pullman train complete with all decorations and colored in a majestic blue and gold. The wagons are all with warm and cozy interiors that feature elegant upholstery. As passengers step on board they are encompassed in a world of polished wood, gleaming cutlery and glittering glass. The train holds up to 84 passengers and has four wagons, two dining wagons, an observation wagon with bar and a kitchen wagon. Besides the train drive the Hiram Bingham train ticket also includes; brunch (Cusco – Machu Picchu) and dinner (Machu Picchu - Cusco) on board, exclusive bus return to the citadel of Machu Picchu, entrance to Machu Picchu, guided tour in the citadel and afternoon tea at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge.
 
IncaRail
 
Executive Train; The Executive train is the most economical option with IncaRail. The wagons hold only 50 passengers and are equipped with panoramic windows and comfortable seats with a table in the middle. During the whole ride there will be healthy snacks and hot and cold drinks available. The Executive train only leaves from Ollantaytambo station.

First Class Train; The luxury train from IncaRail; The train holds only 30 oversized plush seats and has even more legroom than the Executive train. During the trip healthy snacks and hot and cold drinks are available and there is a good selection of books about Peruvian history available. The First Class Train only leaves from Ollantaytambo station. 
 
For more information about trains to Machu Picchu, please see www.howtotraveltomachupicchu.com
  • Taxis are quite cheap in Peru
  • Be sure to take taxis displaying the company number
  • Negotiate the fare before getting in the taxi
  • Take well known bus companies for long distance travel in Peru

Peruvian public transport can as is the case for many South American countries be quite frightening initially to people coming from the states or Europe.  It seems that Latinos need less space to push a car through a car jam and especially are less laid back when it comes to driving. Nevertheless as you will not have your car here, chances are quite small you actually will have to get involved in this chaos. Most of the time you will have a driver, be it a bus, combi, taxi or what have you not. These drivers range (as in any other country) from great to terrible but most will drive “proactive”.  In general there are several types of public transport to get around in Peru.

In the cities most common public transport are combis and busses. Combis are small minivans that have their fixed routes that are shouted out by the helpers in the back. Some of these combis are suicidal experiences and not recommend if you do not know the city and hence the stops. Busses are the same as combis except bigger and even cheaper. In return the combis do their routes faster than the busses. Besides all these options there are off course also Taxis. Taxis in Peru are everywhere and are very cheap in general but nevertheless a headache for many tourists. This is because Peru does not know the taxi meter system automatically telling you the fee at the end of the ride. No, in Peru one has to negotiate the price for the ride in advance. This would not be that complicated were it not that most tourists do not have an idea of the distance and even less of the price for a ride. Therefore when you want to go in a taxi, stop the taxi and have clear the maximum price you want to pay for the ride. Then tell the place you would like to go and drop the taxi driver’s initial offer with at least 25%. In general in Lima you can count about 5 soles (US$2) for a 10 minutes’ drive and this can be multiplied for longer rides. Whenever taking a taxi it is important to go with your gut feeling. In case you don’t feel comfortable with the driver or his first impression, do not board the taxi and take the next one. In general secure taxis are the one with a large sign on top with the number of the central. Unmarked taxis are better to avoid.

Inner-city public transport in Peru is relatively well organized and with the improving road quality all over the country more and more an option to get around. There are hundreds of bus companies all serving a large number of destinations and routes. The most common routes are over the Panamerican Highway and from here routes go inland over the Andes to the Amazon Jungle. Peru is starting to control more and more of the bus companies and implementing new regulations for long distance busses. Nevertheless the number of malfunctioning busses and even worse bad or even unlicensed drivers is still quite high. Therefore it is strongly recommend using well-known bus companies for overland travel. Many routes are over 15 hours long and only the better companies hold to the obliged resting times and two driver systems. The most known companies for long distance busses are; Tepsa, Cruz Del Sur, Oltursa and Cial. Most of these busses include meals and provide two types of classes standard and superior. 

  • Altitude sickness can be felt from an altitude of 2400 meters above sea level
  • The main symptoms are shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness and insomnia
  • Most people will only experience small discomforts due to altitude sickness
  • It is important to drink plenty of water during the first couple of days
  • Eat light food and do not drink alcohol or coffee
  • If the symptoms remain strong after a couple of days you may want to visit a doctor or go to lower altitudes
  • Oxygen is widely available in higher tourist cities in Peru
 
With a country as Peru where a large part of the country is located on altitudes well over 2000 meters, altitude sickness is a phenomenon often experienced by visitors. It is caused by the lower level of oxygen available on higher altitudes. This affects the blood circulation and hence has different symptoms. It is commonly seen with altitudes over 2400 meters but it is hard to predict who will be affected by altitude sickness, as there are no specific factors that correlate with a susceptibility to altitude sickness. However, most people can climb up to 2,400 meters without difficulty.
 
The most common symptoms are; dizziness, headaches, shortness of breath, insomnia and loss of appetite. The most important rules when arriving on altitude are to avoid physical exercise the first day(s), drink lots of water, get enough rest, eat light and avoid coffee, alcohol and cigarettes. Most people will feel the lack of oxygen for a while but when taking the former advice into account undergoes little hinder. In case you would have stronger headaches, insomnia and troubles breathing it is strongly recommend to see a doctor. In Cusco and other cities on altitude oxygen is widely available in pharmacies. Most hotels also provide oxygen for their guests if requested.
 
For the locals there is only one remedy and that is drinking Coca Tea made out of the leaves from the Coca pant. Its benefits have scientifically not been proven yet but who can deny the argument of thousands of years of Andean Culture. For more about Coca and Peru culture, visit all about coca

For most South American countries there are several vaccinations that are strongly recommend and some that are obliged for some regions. The most common recommended ones are:

 
Validity of recommended vaccines (correct at time of publishing).
  • Yellow Fever 10 years (Obliged for some countries such as Bolivia and Colombia)
  • Typhoid 3 years
  • Hepatitis A 10 – 20 years (depending on the vaccine)
  • Polio 10 years
  • Tetanus 10 years
Please keep in mind that for some countries (Bolivia & Colombia) and for some parts of South America (Peruvian and Brazilian Jungle) the Yellow Fever Vaccination is obliged and sometimes will be checked at the border. Therefore, when travelling to one of these countries or regions, it is advisable to always have your Yellow Fever Vaccination Card with you (in most cases a yellow booklet containing all your vaccinations).
In general, it’s important that you receive the most accurate and up-to-date travel health information for the region you will be visiting. Therefore in any case you should go for a personal consultation with a medical specialized person. As we are not medical professionals, this information is no substitute for obtaining accurate medical information. The only one qualified to provide you with this advice is your family physician or a specialist from a Travel Health clinic.

 

Traveler’s diarrhea can be caused by change of climate, water and food. You can reduce the risk of contracting it by drinking only bottled or sterilized water (never tap water), avoiding ice in drinks, fruit juices to which water has been added, peeling all fruit, not eating salad or seafood and avoiding ice-cream not of a recognized brand. If suffering from diarrhea, it is advisable to eat little but to drink plenty of clean water with mineral replacement supplements, or fizzy drinks (no fruit juice or milk). Rehydration products, such as Dioralyte, should be taken to replenish lost salts. If it does not clear up or is accompanied by a fever, you should seek medical advice as you may need to take a course of antibiotics. Take with you some anti-diarrhea tablets such as Lomotil or Imodium, but we don’t recommend these be used as a preventative.

As we are not medical professionals, this information is no substitute for obtaining accurate medical information. The only one qualified to provide you with this advice is your family physician or a specialist from a Travel Health clinic.

If you are travelling to coastal and jungle regions within the tropics, you may enter infected zones and should take an appropriate prophylactic. Which anti-malarials to take depends on a number of variables, such as current illnesses and medication, previous illnesses, pregnancy, previous travel, duration of intended stay, so seek advice from your doctor or Health Centre before traveling. The best widely available repellent (in the UK) is the Jungle Formula range. The effectiveness of repellents depends on the percentage of diethyl toluamide (deet), the active ingredient. If you prefer something natural, Mosiguard can be very effective. Many other brands have only 10-15% deet and are therefore not very effective. Some repellents have up to a 95% concentration - this is very powerful and should not be used for long periods. It also has a deterious effect on leather, plastics and Lycra.

As we are not medical professionals, this information is no substitute for obtaining accurate medical information. The only one qualified to provide you with this advice is your family physician or a specialist from a Travel Health clinic.

Water-purifying tablets, e.g. Sterotabs, are a useful standby in the jungle - or when trekking off the beaten track but are ineffective against amoebae and give the water an unpleasant taste. Boiling water for 10 minutes will kill amoeba. Mineral water is available at most jungle lodges that we book from here. It is important to ensure that you have a high intake of liquids in tropical and semi-tropical regions. You should also be aware of the fact that the sun is much stronger than at temperate latitudes and sunstroke is a danger. Avoid midday sun on tropical beaches, especially in the summer. Take plenty of high factor sunscreen lotion and sun block.

  • Peru’s official currency is the Nuevo Sol, called Sol in general
  • US Dollars are widely accepted but the exchange rate can differ from day to day
  • Small daily payments are best made in Soles
  • Make sure that when you receive Dollar bills they are in 100% good state, one rip or crinkle can make them useless
  • Always use ATM’s inside of banks and never accept any help
  • When changing money, take your time going over the bills and if you are not sure, do not accept them
 
Since 1991 after the hyperinflation Peru’s economy suffered, the old “Inti” was replaced by the “Nuevo Sol” as the official currency for Peru. One Nuevo Sol, more commonly named the Sol, is divided into 100 centavos (cents). The coins available for the Sol are; 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, 1 Sol, 2 Sol and 5 Sol. From 2010 on the government decided not to use the cents lower than 5 cents, so all prices are being rounded down or up. In banknotes there are 5 different notes; 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200. The 200 Sol notes you will not encounter quite often. In 2011 the government started changed the coins and the banknotes for new ones with better security measures. Therefore at this moment there are 2 types of all coins and notes being used in Peru. In Peru as in many other South American countries there is a big problem with false money, both notes as well as coins. The coins are not that big a problem as they are being exchanged without too many problems. Banknotes on the other hand can prove to be somewhat more complicated. For tourists it is always difficult to know if the bill at hand is fake or real and people sometimes do take advantage of this. The old notes in Peru can be pretty worn down making it hard for people to distinguish the good from the bad. The best way to find out if your bill is false or not (even though some fakes are quite well made) is checking the following points;
  • Make sure there is a watermark on the blank part of the note
  • There should be a bar that changes color in the center of the note
  • When the face side is up, on the right hand side the picture should have a bit of profile you can feel when going over the bill with your finger
  • The amount stated on the face side of the bill also should change colors when putting it in a different angle
Whenever you are being accused of having false money, do not panic and do not hand over the note just like that. In many cases the note is not false but they will tell you it is false and that they have to confiscate the banknote. In case they insist to retain the note, make sure that they perforate or rip it in front of your eyes. Therefore whenever you receive quite some change back or change money, take your time going over every bill (all Peruvians do the same) and if you are not sure about a bill ask them to change it for another one.
 
Another tip when it comes to money is to make sure you always have enough change or small bills and coins on you. Taxis, small shops and street vendors will very unlikely have change for a 50 or let alone 100 Sol bill. Therefore whenever you have taken out money and they give you large bills, make sure you pay with them in a restaurant or other large commercial business. In case they ask you if you do not have smaller bills, it is better to refuse and get your large bills exchanged for smaller purchases.
 
US Dollars are also widely accepted in Peru as the external economy of the country is run in US Dollars. In general it is better to change the US Dollars to Soles before making any purchases. The exchange rate you will get in official exchange offices is mostly better than in shops or restaurants. When changing US Dollars (or Euros for that matter) to Soles, it is recommendable to do this in official exchange offices. Another possibility is to do it with official moneychangers on the street. These you can recognize by their green jackets with official number and license. The US Dollar to the Sol can fluctuate quite a bit over a couple of days so it is better not to change too big amounts at once as the exchange rate can easily go up.
 
Regarding US Dollar bills; in Peru people are very strict when it comes to US Dollar bills, the bills with the smallest rip, crinkle or which is just looking old will not be accepted anywhere. Therefore if you receive bills that are not in a 100% good state, do never accept them.
 
When taking out money, ALWAYS TAKE OUT MONEY OUT OF AN ATM INSIDE A BANK. Never use ATM’s that are outside of a bank as these are sometimes fake or compromised and other people may be watching over your shoulder. When in a bank make sure that there is enough space between you and the person behind you and ALWAYS COVER YOUR HAND WHEN ENTERING YOUR PIN NUMBER. Do not accept any assistance and if there is a problem find a person inside the bank that has clear identification. Finally, in tourists cities you will often find those yellow ATM's’in shops, these are safe to use, but they do charge an additional percentage for the transactions so it is better to walk to a bank and get your money from an ATM in the bank.
 
Most major credit cards are widely accepted in South America. They are accepted to make payments in the more upscale restaurants and hotels and some stores. ATM machines in South America recognize most international credit cards to redraw money. Please keep in mind that your bank charges a fee to withdraw money and make credit card payments.
Debit cards can be sometimes a bit more problematic. Some debit cards are accepted but others are not. Furthermore this still varies a lot between countries.

Therefore if you are planning to travel only with a debit card, we strongly advise you to pass by your bank to obtain the latest information regarding the working of your debit card in the destination you will be visiting. In any case this is advisable even for credit card holder to get clarity regarding withdrawal limits and other possible restrictions.
 
For more information about money in Peru, please see the following link; http://www.bcrp.gob.pe/banknotes-and-coins.html
 
For all other questions regarding credit cards and debit cards, please contact your bank.
 
  • Travel insurance is highly recommended for travels to South America
  • Some Credit card offer some kind of insurance that you get the services you paid for but does in general not cover issues with flights, bad weather or illness
  • Feel free to ask your Travel Representative more about travel insurances
Everyone knows that travel is full of variables and there is always a risk, however small, that something might go wrong before or during your trip. Something as minor as a flight delay can have a significant financial impact, as can illness, bad weather or luggage delays.
In 2010 for instance, travelers to Latin America had their plans disrupted by various events including flooding near Machu Picchu, an earthquake in Chile, and a volcanic ash cloud grounding flights from Europe. Events like these, despite being unpredictable and rare, can ruin entire vacations if you are not properly insured. Therefore we at Peru Travels Online STRONGLY recommend taking out travel insurance before travelling.
We do not provide any travel insurance but nevertheless following is some information about the different types of travel insurance. The general travel insurance policies are;
 
Trip cancellation coverage; This travel insurance covers you in case you or any of the insured people will have to cancel their holiday on the last minute due to illness or other unforeseen reasons.
 
Medical coverage; this type of coverage normally covers you for unforeseen medical costs while abroad. Before you depart, contact your insurance provider and ask if you are covered when travelling abroad. Before travelling, find out what limitations your policy has and get specific. Ask about emergency treatment, hospitalization, the possibility of long-term care -- and determine what limits or exclusions apply. Regardless of where you are from, if treated for an emergency in another country, keep receipts for your medical expenses for reimbursement when you return.
 
Evacuation / Repatriation Coverage; another type of health-related insurance covers the cost of medical evacuation, which can reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you are injured or become severely ill abroad, this type of policy will pay for the high cost of taking an air ambulance back to your home country, or to a nearby country with better health care than the one you are in. These can be included in the other policies but confirm this before departure.

For more information about travel insurance and in order to compare the different kinds of companies and policies offered, a good website to start with is squaremouth.com
 

 

The following information is only valid for Peru (valid on day of publication). For more and the most up to date information about Visas, please visit the website of your country’s government. 
 
If you are travelling from a Western European country, North or South America, Canada, Australia or New Zealand to Peru you will only require a valid passport with at least 6 months left on the passport from the day you enter Peru.
 
When you enter the country by airport or border crossing you will need to fill in the tourist card giving details of how you got there your purpose etc. You will normally get a 90 day stay in Peru but sometimes you will only get a 30 day pass for the country depending on the mood of the immigration official.
 
We recommend that it is better to ask them for 90 days upfront if that’s what you need rather than them stamping your passport and then asking them to redo it. So both your passport and your tourist card will get the stamp. Keep your tourist card safe at all times as if you lose it you will have to pay a fine and also have to go through a lot more hassle. For the latest information about visa requirements for your country, please check the website of your government or embassy. 
  • Peru is one of the most diverse countries in the world having 6 out of 8 climates zones
  • When it comes to biodiversity, Peru is one of the top three countries in the world
  • Peru has a long coast line on the west, the Andes in the centre and the Amazon Rainforest in the east of the country
  • Peru was home to several ancient cultures among which the Caral, the oldest civilization known in the Americas
  • Peru has a great diversity of outdoor activities, hiking, rafting, cycling, etc...

This may seem a bit of a stupid question, but as many peoples main reason to visit Peru is to see Machu Picchu we do feel the need to expose some of the wonderful experiences one can expect when visiting this amazing and fascinating country outside of the world wonder. 

Being such a diverse country Peru provides you with dry deserts, snowcapped mountains and some of the deepest forests in the world all in one country. Even more; top this off with some of the most fascinating history of the Americas and some real mysteries and you truly have a once in a lifetime travel destination.

 


Machu Picchu is indisputably the biggest tourist attraction in Peru and the most emblematic historic site in South America. The site of Machu Picchu was built by the Inca but these are not the only ancient civilizations that have roamed Peru and left behind impressive constructions. As Peru is one of the oldest inhabited areas in South America, you can find impressive sites from different civilizations all over Peru. In the north one can find the ruins of Chan Chan, the biggest adobe city in the world or visit the Temple of the Sun and the Moon, the biggest pyramids ever found in South America. Closer to Lima you can find Caral, the oldest city ever found in the Americas. South of Lima one can visit the Nazca Lines, which still present us with the mystery of how they have been designed. From here we enter Southern Peru or the original Inca Territory as this where the Inca rose and have left most of their impressive constructions such as Machu Picchu, Cusco, Ollantaytambo and Pisac.

 

Without doubt, one of the main Peru tourist attractions would be the awesome hiking and trekking this country offers. Being home to the largest mountain range in the world, the Andes, Peru is a mecca for all who look for high altitude adrenaline and flabbergasting mountain views. The number of hikes is endlessly and the levels of difficulty vary a lot. You can hike ancient Inca Trails, climb “top of the world” mountains, and hike down to the Amazon basin or even do it all in one. The most famous hike is without doubt the Inca Trail taking you via the ancient route to Machu Picchu.

This popular hike does sell out quickly, but no worries the options are plenty; the Salkantay or Lares treks take you through the true Peruvian highlands also ending in Machu Picchu, or what about Choquequirao or Espiritu Pampa, two lesser known important Inca sites, the latter being the last refuge of the Inca’s after the fall of Cusco. In the north of Peru we find the famous Cordillera Blanca and the Huascaran, the highest mountain of Peru. The nice thing about the treks in northern Peru is the fact that the starting points are relatively accessible from Lima. Finally in southern Peru we find another extreme, the two deepest canyons in the world, both twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in the USA, and located at 3 hours from Arequipa, the Cotohuasi Canyon; the deepest in the world and only challenged in beauty by the nearby Colca Canyon, only 150 meters less profound and home to the famous condors. Together with the Misti Volcano, without doubt some of the best hiking possibilities in South West Peru. No matter what type of hiking you may be looking for, we are positive that Peru can offer it all.


 


Peru is known for its artisanal products, for its wool, gold & silver and its ceramics. All these products can be found easily, cheap and of great quality in Peru. You would not be the first visitor not being able to resist the colorful jumpers and hats being offered here. For shopping the bigger cities are maybe your best choice; Lima, Cusco, Arequipa, they all have large artisanal markets close to the city center were you can find almost anything you would imagine from a Peru artisanal market. Nevertheless, one of the main Peru attractions when it comes to shopping is without a doubt the market of Pisac. This market covering several blocks of this small town is famous for all the artisanal products you can find here in a typical Andean atmosphere.

 

Off course this list wouldn’t be complete without including the largest part of Peru, the Amazon Rainforest. This Peru tourist attraction is full of amazing discoveries and adventures. National parks such as Manu and Tambopata hold some of the most pristine and untouched Rainforest on the continent. Head down on some of the many waterways through this dense forest in a canoe, walk over a canopy walkway through the forest treetops, fish for piranhas, evening walks, these are all experiences part of a jungle stay. Of course there are other activities such as visiting indigenous villages and doing overnight camping trips. For the more luxury seekers, from Iquitos you can embark one of the luxury cruise boats doing multiple day cruises on the Amazon River.

Agreed, Peru may not be the first destination that comes to mind when thinking about surfing, but nothing is lesser true. Surf culture always has been big in Peru and the last couple of years this is starting to pay off. With the organization of the Women’s World Championship in 2008 in Mancora, Peru recently won the world title for teams, it is safe to say that surfing is the next big thing in Peru. Having good waves all over the north coast from Lima to the border with Ecuador, especially Lima and Mancora are known for its surfing beaches. As Lima weather only allows one to enjoy the waves a couple of months a year, we would recommend going to the beaches at Mancora and combining a couple of days relaxing with surfing classes. For the advanced surfers, in Chicama you will find the longest wave in the world. Besides the surfing on waves there is another type of surf Peru has to offer;

Sand boarding. This is done on a surf board greased up with wax and then sliding you down some of the highest sand dunes in the world. A buggy will take you into the desert and drive you up these gigantic dunes for a slide full of adrenaline down to the foot of the dune. The best sand boarding you can find in the Huacachina Oasis or in Nazca.